Tuesday, September 30, 2008

The joy of parenting

I spoke to a man roughly my age today who was going through the first days of parenthood, desperately searching for some Ovol to calm his baby's colic. I spoke with him at length about how gas and the ensuing discomfort (and vocal registering of that discomfort) is very normal at the newborn stage, gave him some advice on how to more effectively burp baby (we tend to be a touch timid as new parents!) and proceeded to inform him that it will get better, sleep will return, albeit gradually, and the remarkable miracles he will experience every day will erase any memories of difficulty. It was obviously a welcome discussion, because he very firmly shook my hand as he left and graciously thanked me for all my advice.

It got me to thinking about these years. Sometimes I fear that I might be doing things wrong (as if you could care too much for your children) but than heed the advice of my very wise parents: the young years pass much too quickly, and do what you can to enjoy them. My wife and I somewhat subscribe to a philosophy gaining ground in North America known as free range parenting (likely to gain more ground after appearing on Dr. Phil today!). It doesn't mean complete infantile anarchy. What it means is letting your child explore their own creative instincts, resist the urge to put knee pads on your crawling baby, and let them do a header into the coffee table once in awhile. This is how they learn. They don't need five nights a week of structured after school activity followed by structured homework. Some of the most brilliant ideas of our time arose during quiet reflection or while reading a good book. And so, I present to you, exhibits A and B of my free range parenting feature (it's not really a feature, all I have is two exhibits, but every good museum starts with something).

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